Pauls Hair and Beauty World : an introduction and my favourite picks! *

Welcome to Paul's Hair and Beauty World!

"With over 20 years experience, Paul's Hair World is at the forefront of the hair extension market, with a worldwide customer base and a reputation for supplying the very best in hair extensions, hair products and a complete range of styling products. As well as supplying you with the premier hair products, we also carry a comprehensive stock of beauty products including nail care, electrical styling products, hair extension after care, contact lenses. We also have a growing collection of low priced perfumes from the leading brands."
Paul's Hair and Beauty World are a hair extensions store based in Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and online, and let me tell you it is a vast website! There is so much to explore and I have found some beautiful items for you all to have a look-see at! Now; I must preface this post by saying that I have absolutely no experience with hair extensions and have approached my 'picks' on that basis! I'm very interested to learn more after seeing some amazing pieces of  very high quality European hair extensions

My favourite picks : Hair
 It has to be halo! Hair extensions have always made me nervous because they seem so complicated to fit and then they take your hair with it when they come out - we've all seen those scary pictures in the gossip magazines! Halo has solved that problem with a pretty genius solution! 

"And with our patent pending adjustable miracle wire, every customer can be sure that their halo will be a perfect fit every time! The Halo is worn by it being placed on your head, with your own hair pulled through and over the miracle wire. You'll quickly discover why the Halo is an award winning design! And that patent pending miracle wire comes with a lifetime warranty too!"

It's idiot proof and doesn't damage your existing hair. I'm SOLD. 
The halo isn't cheap, I won't lie, but for a solution like this I think it's worth the investment. A 16" piece will set you back £89.99 and a 20" piece is £99.99. 

I was taken back to my teenage days when I saw these gorgeous extensions!  
"The product pack includes 10 feathers in total and our hair feathers are made up of 2 bundles of 5 feathers to add a little creative design to your hair."
 Paul's Hair say that these are easy to fit, and only cost £14.99! They come in a wide range of colours; naturally I picked scarlett red, but there is also:

Last but not least, I wanted to show you this absolutely beautiful headband! I will admit, I had absolutely no idea who Frankie Essex was so google to the rescue it was, and now we know she's an ex-TOWIE star. So there's that! 

Available in 10 different colours, for just £9.99, this will save you a lot of tears and arm-ache trying to braid your own hair into this style! I personally wouldn't even try to, that's way too hard and frustrating! (that's what she said...!)
 Cute right? :) The headband is adjustable which is a huge plus-point! None of that too-small-it's-digging-into-my-brain pains! 

Another bargain you must add to your hair collection! There is a single braid headband too, but it is a massive single plait and just doesn't really look anywhere near as beautiful as this double-braid!
If you order online with Paul's Hair and Beauty World and you're from the UK, there's free shipping if you spend more than £100. Otherwise shipping is £5.99 and will arrive in 3-5 days. 
Europeans, shipping will cost £12. The rest of the world: £25.

Orders placed before 2pm will be dispatched the same day, excluding weekends, via Royal Mail Tracked. 

Go say hi to Paul on Twitter and Facebook
Are you a pro with extensions? Would you ever try them? Let me know!

*this is a sponsored post*

The University Diaries : feeling alone and incapable

This is more of a vent than anything with a glimmer of insight. 

It's only the second week back and I already feel terrified, exhausted and flat out stupid. As much as I want to hope and pray that this flare up of CFS symptoms is just re-adjustment issues after such a long break, but I'm not so sure. My schedule is brutal at times and I'm not getting enough rest. 

Example: Monday I was on campus from 8.30am until 5.30pm. I didn't get home until nearly 6.30pm. Four hours of lectures and a two hour practical which I bailed on after an hour or so. Tuesday wasn't so bad, I get to come home for a brief rest period. Wednesday is my day off. Yesterday I spent THREE HOURS staring down a microscope. 

Oh god, I thought my head was going to explode. Plus it's so stupidly stuffy in there I lost some time by going outside simply to feel less suffocated! I'm always the last to finish which doesn't help my confidence, I'm just slowwwwww. I also forget everything which really does not help matters. I couldn't remember what cytoplasm looked like for gods sake, and then when I tried to write it I hit a road block. Idiot.

Today my 12pm lecture was cancelled, but there is a 5pm neuroscience lecture I'm meant to be at. Not a chance. I can barely make it to the bathroom without seeing stars. 

I'm so exhausted and in pain. I feel sick and want to cry. How the hell am I going to make it to April?? When I wake up to my alarm I feel like I'm totally off-my-ass drunk. Obviously I'm not, but it's just so frikking hard to even sit up, let alone get ready to leave and then try and absorb something in lectures. Another delightful side-effect to my exhaustion is being super clumsy. I walk into door frames, drop things and am generally not allowed to touch anything anymore...

There is no-one I can talk to about this who really understands just what this feels like. The student support people know, but I'm not entirely sure what I can talk to my mentor about yet. I'm meeting her next Thursday so I guess I'll find out then. 

I hate seeing my grades and level of study suffer purely because I need to rest. Reading isn't resting either. When I say rest, I mean, basically being asleep. My friends are all doing so well compared to me and I'm feeling just, different... back in that glass bubble that somehow separates me from the rest of the world. I don't speak their language or know how to function like them. 

At the moment, I just don't see how this degree is going to end the way I want it to. Apparently I've lost the ability to stay in the present as well. I know I am my own worst critic, and nothing I ever do will ever be good enough, but this isn't how I wanted my university experience to be. I was supposed to be leaving illness and failures behind me, not having them morph and sneak in when I wasn't looking. 

At no point has quitting entered my mind. Hell no. I won't be leaving university unless they force me to go.

I just....... I dunno. Things need to get better, and I hope that I can figure out how.


Zoggs : Summer Swimwear *

Have you started thinking about your summer yet? Booked your holiday? The boyfriend and I are returning to Nerja in July and we absolutely cannot wait!! 

Naturally, for such a beautiful part of southern Spain, a girl needs to come armed with lots of swimwear, and Zoggs have a selection of women's swimwear for summer! What I tend to do is buy some 'proper' branded swimwear for the pool and taking a dip in the sea, and also bring along some more 'high street' pieces for sunbathing or wearing under a dress or something. The main reason for this is that brands like Zoggs are designed to cope with chlorine and sea water whereas high street brands do not always fare so well. When you have a 36DD's to control, you need that security!!

ThatRedheadSaid : Zoggs Logo

I really like the Eden range by Zoggs; more specifically the skirted brief which is currently on offer for an incredible £9! You can choose between a tankini top or a cup-sized bikini top, which is brilliant if, like me, you're really scared to bare your stomach to the world! Both are currently £17.50, so the entire Eden range is at 50% off right now! 

ThatRedheadSaid : Zoggs Eden

Another piece I really like is the Clifton swimdress! Zoggs have opted for 'fun and flirty' which I can see, but really I think cute sums it up nicely! I can see myself wearing this on the balcony or by the pool with a book, and having the option to take a little dip in the pool to cool off every so often! You could even get away with wandering around in just the swimdress and your flip-flops - I'm still thinking Spain here, it seemed to be the done thing! - or you could put a light maxi skirt on and no-one would know the difference! Currently selling for £21.50, usually sold for £43, this is a bargain you really need to grab! 

ThatRedheadSaid : Zoggs Clifton SwimdressThatRedheadSaid : Zoggs Clifton Swimdress

I highly recommend you visit Zoggs and treat yourself to some swimwear you can trust!

*this is a sponsored post*

Nexplanon : two weeks post removal; what the hell is normal?

Hi ladies! :) 

You are all still clicking away on these updates, so I will continue to log my 'journey' with nexplanon and the dramatics that the endocrine system just loves to create. 

So yes, hormones. The attribute of the female body we all loathe in some way, shape or form... I am very much in the loathing camp at the moment. As we all know, at different times during a typical 28 day cycle we get peaks and dips in different hormones and these produce physical manifestations in a huge range of ways depending on how sensitive you are. Homicidal PMS anyone? 

In a very brief nutshell, this is what happens: 

The whole point of nexplanon is that it prevents the release of an egg so, obviously, there's nothing there to be fertilised. Nexplanon also increases the thickness of your uterine lining so those little swimmers won't get terribly far into the reproductive tract. Looking at the description above, we can see that nexplanon seems to interact at days 14 to 28 more than any other, generating the classic PMS symptoms or as I guess we could now call them, side effects. 

Women can be stuck in a state of perpetual PMS due to the chronic imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone. "The release rate of etonogestrel is approximately 60–70 µg/day in the first 5–6 weeks, decreasing to 35–45 µg/day by the end of the first year of use, to 30–40 µg/day by the end of the second year and to 25–30 µg/day by the end of the third year." This unit: µg, is a microgram, and is 1000 times smaller than a milligram (mg) which we are more used to seeing on prescription medications. There is no 'system reset' where all hormonal levels return to a natural null level anymore. Of course, this really does vary hugely across all users as there is no set, single value of 'normal' hormonal levels for women.

This is illustrated very well by the bleeding patterns experienced by all users. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we prayed for no bleeding at all. Ever. The first time around I was cursed with the non-stop variety, so maybe my body felt guilty and decided the second time around I could be free of that crap. If only things worked like that!

"1 in 5 experience no bleeding. 
1 in 5 experience prolonged bleeding. 
1 in 20 experience infrequent bleeding.
1 in 35 experience frequent bleeding."

Not terribly helpful when you're trying to make a decision about whether or not to choose nexplanon, but it does highlight the range of hormonal levels within each of us. There is no telling what the 'critical level' of progesterone and oestrogen is before they trigger the next stage in the cycle. It is perfectly plausible that your poor body is being given mixed messages by the etonogestrel aka extra bossy, and super fake progesterone. Your oestrogen is left to do it's thing and adapt as much as it can to this sudden influx in hormonal signals.

The good news is that within a week of having the implant removed, etonogestrel can no longer be detected. This also means that within 3 weeks, you should have resumed ovulating and therefore could become pregnant within that month. It does happen. This does somewhat rest on your pre-existing fertility prior to nexplanon invading your body, as well as your age. The ability to conceive does begin to drop off past the age of 30.

I don't know about you all, but I was pretty oblivious to what my body did when ovulation was due. Amongst all my reading this past month or so I have been relying a lot on forums from women who are trying to conceive, because they are by nature a lot more aware of every single thing their body does. They are subtle little hints which to be frank can mean about 10 different things depending on what you're looking for, but it's worth knowing, so you know what your normal is and that everything is still ticking over as it should.

By a complete fluke I happened to have my old tracker app still on my phone. It serves as an advanced warning system and was a good guide for seeing if my profusely irregular periods had any sort of pattern to them at all. For January I was due to have a period on 7th, but obviously because of the nexplanon implant it didn't come. I have had no bleeding yet either which I find a bit odd now to be honest, but I'm not worried just yet.

My ovulation was due between 17th and 22nd. I think I ovulated this time but what could be signs of ovulation could also be my body trying to sort itself out and producing what basically translates into annoying nonsense. If you really wanted a clear picture of your ovulation, you could buy an ovulation predictor kit and chart your results for a few months. I've entertained this idea but to be honest I can't be bothered and can't really afford those kits right now. If I'm right, then in 9 days time I should see a period.

 As many doctors and nurses have said to me; as long as you're not showing signs of an infection, in unmanageable pain (aka beyond paracetamol and/or co-codamol) or bleeding heavily for more than 7 days then you're probably more than alright.

Here's what my body has been doing lately: headaches, really thirsty, peeing more than usual, pee is too concentrated for the level of fluids I'm drinking, my boobs hurt like hell, weird taste in my mouth, not hungry/feeling sick or only wanting fruit and toast, bloating, gas, cramps, increased sense of smell, sore muscles, back ache!

Needless to say, I feel crap but I'm also happy I am not eating everything in sight. I will brave the scales on 1st February... Maybe.

Healing nicely. Scar is darker because I'm cold at the moment! You can also see the first nexplanon scar to the right.
Happy Sunday! :)


TJ Hughes : VAX : for your Spring cleaning needs *

Ok, so it's not Spring time just yet, but there's no harm in being prepared! ;)

"Time to replace that old vacuum cleaner? At TJ Hughes we have a fantastic selection of cheap vacuum cleaners which not only feature modern designs but are also easy to use. We offer cheap hoovers in a number of different designs. Whether you need an upright hoover or a cylinder hoover, we have got plenty of different hoovers to choose from. Offering hoovers from top brands such as Vax, Numatic, Samsung and Russell Hobbs. With so many affordable hoovers to choose from, there is a vacuum cleaner to suit any budget at TJ Hughes."

I've spoken about TJ Hughes once before, around Christmas time I believe it was? They really are a company you need to get familiar with folks; the bargains are just amazing!!! 

If you're a bit of a clean freak like me, or you have little ones or pets, you need a decent hoover in your life. It's one of those purchases we all have to make, and I see ones like this as an investment. If you buy good quality it will serve you well and you won't have to keep making repeat purchases as replacements. 

As I'm sat here writing, I can't get that episode of The Royle Family out of my head; the one where they're going on and on about Dyson hoovers! Classic. 
Anyway. There's an affordable range of vacuum cleaners from TJ Hughes. The savings against the RRP are amazing. You can get a Freetime Robot Vacuum for £79.99!!! I totally want/need one of these, especially when you're saving a ridonkulous £170 against the RRP; £249.99.

It'd clean my floors and provide some form of entertainment for me and Lily! Win-win!! Remember that YouTube clip of the kitten sat on the robot vacuum? So cute. 

Another cool cleaning aid I discovered is this VAX Window Vac! With this awful weather pummeling the windows, they look pretty sorry for themselves. With this you can easily give them a decent clean so you can look outside without the mud, moss and whatever else is splattered on them. I'm just referring to my own windows here; living on one of the highest points in Brighton has serious down-points when the wind is blowing the wrong way! Let's not forget the delights of condensation plus cat hair in the mornings! For just £49.99, saving 50% against the RRP, that's a lot of cleaning stress taken away. You can also clean hard surfaces like worktops and I am going to hazard a guess that you could clean bathroom tiles with this too! 

If you do need to replace your vacuum; I really do recommend VAX. I had one in my last house as I had a very thick carpet and it kept it in perfect condition during my entire tenancy. When I moved out, I hired a cleaner to give them a shampoo as it's the decent thing to do when you're renting with a pet, and he remarked at the brilliant condition the entire house was in! I can't remember exactly which VAX I had but I know it was built to deal with pet-hair and had a HEPA filter. It weighed a tonne but it got the job done, plus gave me a good workout!

My current house is mostly wood flooring, so I need a different plan of attack now. I am lusting after this VAX Stick Steamer to keep the flooring free of cat hair and general germs. It would save me so much back ache! Sadly at the moment I am using wipes and spending vastly too much time scrubbing on my hands and knees. At £49.99, again a 50% saving off the RRP, that's a life-saver right there. I'm a student, I don't have time to be scrubbing floors, nor do I particularly want to! 

I might have to find some money in my budget for this one... 

For great brands, including VAX hoovers, check out TJ Hughes

* this is a sponsored post *

Adventures in Psychiatry : stopping medication

It was a year ago I started venlafaxine. It lasted better than all other medications, losing it's therapeutic effects after 10 months or so. I was taking 300mg by the end, split into two extended release doses of 150mg. It wasn't doing anything and I didn't feel at all happy about braving 375mg so I started to slowly taper down.

Venlafaxine isn't something you can either just stop, or come off within a couple of weeks. It's going to take months to come off of a dose as high as 300mg. By some miracle of pharmacology, as I am taking quetiapine alongside it, the withdrawal has been painless, so far! I'm down to 150mg at night. The tricky part now is that I don't have any 75mg or 37.5mg tablets so I need to either see my GP or play chemist with other medications I have that hit serotonin... 

Remember that at doses over 225mg venlafaxine starts working the dopamine receptors as well as serotonin and noradrenaline so the addition of quetiapine is a blessing right now! However, I am also stopping that. The discontinuation syndrome is nowhere near as bad for this one and I have been able to drop from 450mg to 225mg in 3 weeks. I didn't know what it was doing to be honest. At 450mg I felt less anxious and seemed to be free of most hallucinations, but my thoughts were still a bit, off. 

Physically, I felt like I was carrying around a block of cement. My system was so heavily drugged it was just impossible to do anything without gasping for air or feeling like I was going to pass out. I couldn't think clearly and it was interacting with nexplanon in a major way - weight gain.

I have also cut down my dose of propranolol from 160mg to 80mg. My rationale is that I am 26 years old and am gasping and wheezing like my 80 year old grandad who only has one lung - he had a massive benign tumor removed when I was a baby. It's pretty hard to explain how it feels to be on so many medications at a high dose... On one hand I know they're necessary and the side-effects are just a trade off for functionality, but on the flip side I just feel, toxic. 

 This body I am in isn't mine and I certainly don't like being so breathless and sweaty all the time. 

I will explain this to my medical team when I see them next - at the psychiatric hospital on 28th February. I'm saving time by coming off the meds before this appointment. How the hell is the psychiatrist going to know what flavour of crazy I have if medications are sitting on symptoms? 

Do I feel any different at the moment? Aside from being less bloated, having vastly less of an appetite and having horrible palpitations.... I don't think so. Thanks to having nexplanon removed 2 weeks ago I have absolutely no idea what's hormonal and what's depression. I'm quite tearful, but at the same time I feel wired and wreckless. I've been doing some pretty stupid shit... aka spending money.. A lot of money. The rush I get is just ridiculous and I just feel better having it. Then I just need more.... Ugh god. I don't know. I am still getting really scary urges to self-harm and have got that 'movie' type situation going on, where I see myself doing it and basically painting the walls with my blood. 

But I feel physically better not being so medicated. I need to lose this weight and take care of the stretch marks I've acquired. It sounds shallow but it really is a matter of health.

 If you feel like you want to come down on your medications, for the love of god talk to your doctor, CPN or social worker. Don't just do it without notifying anyone. Things could really go sideways and no-one wants to end up being admitted to hospital as a result! 


Lush Cosmetics : porridge

My, oh my. This has been a lonnnnnnng time. I love writing about Lush products so much, and today I have got a real champion of a soap for you. It's called Porridge, and you absolutely must get this in your life. 

picture from
Like most things in Lush, I stumbled across Porridge purely by accident while browsing the non-bath items. As I have a new tattoo, I am forbidden to indulge in baths for another 2ish weeks - waaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!! I also needed something to soothe my very angry skin, while giving it a darn good scrub to get all the nasty stuff off. 

As we all know, when you enter a Lush shop, it's an assault on the senses. A very welcome one, but it can be quite overwhelming as you find yourself being swept away on a cloud of delicious aromas. As my nose was doing it's thing, I picked up on the smell of oats and my stomach growled. This absolutely gorgeous soap has me hooked there and then. 

The bar is firm enough for you to hold while you scrub away in the shower, but it also produces the most incredible cleansing and comforting treat, oatmilk, for your skin. You could use this in the morning and feel compelled to have a decent breakfast, or you could relax at night with this and settle down with a nice mug of horlicks and your book before bed!

The star of the show is the pinhead oatmeal. This serves as your exfoliator and the incredible oatmilk produced from the water soothes and calms your skin. Oats have been around since the dawn of time - ok, maybe not THAT long, since like 2000 BC - so it stands to reason that we've figured out how to use them for more than just munching on. Indeed, the clever people at Lush found that: "The Roman historian, Pliny, and his contemporaries, mention the use of oats as a topical, skin-soothing treatment in the medical texts of their time." You can't argue with the Romans. They were right, again!

"Oats are a source of calcium, iron and vitamin B1. They are high in carbohydrates and contain more protein and lipids (fat) than other grains. Oats also contain avenanthramides, a type of antibiotic produced by the plant, which act as an antioxidant and may contribute to the topical soothing effect of the grain."

If you have acne, or get those horrible painful lumps under the skin, this is the attribute you need to look out for. It seems counter-intuitive as we are living in a world with super-strength resistant bacteria thanks to over-prescription of antibiotics, but as we are on the homeopathic side of 'medicine' with this one, you're free to use at will!

I do remember hearing somewhere that some people use oatmeal as a treatment for their children when they're going through the chicken pox virus. Something to keep in mind! ;)

Other qualities I love about this soap is the use of organic orange juice, it really adds to the breakfast vibe and smells incredible. Titanium Dioxide is a natural sunscreen, which is always a good thing to have on your skin! Sodium Laural Sulfate basically makes the bubbles amazing, in a nutshell! Don't be worried about the scary looking 'EDTA' in the ingredients. It's totally safe and I love the analogy provided by Lush:  

"EDTA is a chelating agent formed of four carboxylic acid groups (COOH) attached to two nitrogen (N) atoms. In certain conditions the compound develops negative charges on four of the oxygen atoms; this allows EDTA to sequester (grab onto) free metal ions or minerals. The analogy that we like best is to describe EDTA like a lobster, with claws closing around minerals as they float past in the water!"

I swear if I ever come across carboxylics' in exams I will forever be picturing lobsters. Thanks Lush! :)

With the science aside; this soap makes your skin feel absolutely incredible. It's soothing, and leaves you with a beautiful clean sensation - squeaky clean, even! - but unlike most other products that produce this effect, your skin is not dried out. I have even used this as a make-shift face mask with amazing results.

You really need to try this out. You will only part with £3.10 for 100g; £7.75 for 250g and £15.50 for a 500g bar.

Yummy!!!! :)

Nexplanon : one week post removal; girl talk.

Hello again!

Before I get into this post I just want to take a moment to thank every single person that has come by to read my initial post on the current nexplanon saga! It's already nearing 1000 hits and that just blows my mind. I really want to try and be as informative as possible, and in the near future I am going to collaborate with another blogger who has been having similar problems with nexplanon, so do give the follow button a click so you don't miss it! Also; if you have any questions please leave it in the comments or drop me an email and I would be happy to help as best as I can!!

So! It's been 10 days since I have the demon implant removed and I have got a lot to talk about. I deliberately made myself be more consciously aware of  my body and what it was doing. There has been some sort of war in my endocrine system, but it seems to be coming to an end... *touch wood*.

The first few days were promising. I noticed an immediate impact on my appetite, but that might have just been me feeling crap from the stress of the day. Either way, I'm not complaining. I need to eat chocolate daily, that's just how I function, but for the first time in a LONG time I was able to leave some on the plate. I really didn't want any more and I honestly wanted to cry with joy. I had regained a sense of satiety! Let's not forget that at this point I was still taking my full dose of venlafaxine (300mg) and quetiapine (450mg), so this is pretty important. It seems that despite my psychiatric medications and their highly documented effects on appetite and the sensation of fullness, it was nexplanon that seemed to be tipping the balance over to complete stomach deafness!

After the first few days of relative nothingness, along came the cramps. Not just 'regular' PMS-type cramping, but curling up in a ball, crawling on the floor and cursing your existence as a female type cramps. This carried on for about 5 days. I was fully expecting the period from hell but it didn't arrive. This may or may not have been due to the fact I was relying on mefenamic acid to function. 

I know my hormones are all over the place at the moment. One day I feel noticeably less bloated, then other days I look so swollen I want to vomit. I catch myself feeling really pissed off for no reason and wanting to either scream or cry. Or just punch something. I am vastly too scared to weigh myself, but I am making a conscious effort to eat less, stop drinking my calories and wean myself off sugar! I am very aware that embarking on a weight loss mission with a history of eating disorder is like poking a hibernating bear, but I absolutely cannot remain this size. I also have my boyfriend to keep me in check, and as I'm under the CMHT again, they will definitely call me out if I'm losing too much weight or showing ED symptoms. I just want to be back to my old-self. This body is not mine. I have a small frame and I just can't carry this weight without looking like a fat cow. 


I am also tapering down on my medications. Today (sunday) I am down to 250mg quetiapine, 150mg venlafaxine and 80mg propranolol. I'm not experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms yet, and I'm fairly certain that it's the quetiapine keeping things in check at the moment. I'm only able to do this without guidance and supervision from my GP because I've done this routine so many times now. I would absolutely not recommend doing this if you've not titrated down on medications before. My medical team are aware of my insistence to get off these medications as soon as possible, and I know to call BURS or see my GP if I get unstuck.

My partner and I are very much still in agreement that removing the nexplanon implant was the right thing to do. Despite the current pains, which at times chew on my lower back for days at a time, this won't last much longer - I hope! At one point I thought I had sciatica!

My incision cut has now fully healed over. At day 3 I had to replace the steri-strips are they came off in the shower. It was important to re-do them as the wound was still gaping and could have led to a nasty keloid scar. I had to get the boyfriend to pinch the sides together while I attached the steri-strips! It was an awkward job but it paid off. It looks great for 10 days old and I'm sure it'll be invisible in a few months.

Removal day! More bloody than typical as the implant didn't want to come out!

DAY THREE - steri-strip fell off. Gaping wound meant replacement essential.

DAY TEN. Scars from previous nexplanon procedures, and wound fully healed over. Redness will subside quickly.

So that's about all I've got for this update. If you have any questions, or would like to share your experience of nexplanon, feel free to leave it in the comments or email me on: if you would like to be featured in my upcoming collaboration post. 

I hope you're all having a lovely lazy Sunday! It's the start of the spring semester for me tomorrow. That's going to be a real shock to the system! 

Don't forget to give the follow button a click! ;)

The University Diaries : Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Examination Nightmares

I hope this post will be useful, and serve as an apology for my absence!

Those that are currently at university, and those who are graduates will know that January is exam time. I can't think of anyone that likes this part of our education, but apparently it's a necessary evil. I disagree. Universities would have vastly better rankings if their students were permitted to be assessed on coursework alone... but I won't tip over into a rant about exams just now.

So that's partially why I have failed to make much noise here on the blog of late. January has been a cycle of books, colourful pens, listening to boring lectures in painstakingly careful detail and crashing into a heap of exhaustion and pain afterwards.

The trouble with chronic fatigue syndrome, is that it is spectacularly variable and it can take years with the condition to learn what you can handle from one day to the next. For example, I've learned that if I study hard for exams for 48 hours, sit the exam and then stop, I won't start again for a week at least. If I try and start again before I have sufficiently recovered, the price is pain and being a cognitive train-wreck.

Obviously, during exam season this doesn't bode well for a 'good' performance. It is a super-shit condition to try and study with. It's not just about energy and pain management. You become sensitive to light, noise, pretty much anything... Concentration becomes quite a novel skill to have. My memory has been significantly damaged from the past few years when I was very unwell, so trying to recall details from lectures or journals is damn near impossible. At it's worst, you find yourself unable to read. You can see the letters but have no concept of what they are, like being presented with a page that has been written in Chinese. 

I had three exams, and they were all multiple choice and only an hour long. That was something of a saving grace. Since I was assessed by the DSA I was meant to be in a smaller room, but they didn't get the instruction in time so I had to either submit mitigating evidence and sit the exams during the summer re-sits or just grit my teeth and pray that I can claw a pass, and not freak out in the exam hall. As much as my perfectionist side hates it, I can't put unnecessary pressure on myself. It's "only first year" so all we have to do is pass. It's practice for the rest of my studies. If you screw up, it's alright because you're new to this. 

Three exams. Each got 48 hours of intense revision. I have no set 'method' as yet for what works with my ridiculous brain. All I know is I like colours and writing things out helps me remember, slightly. So it was gel pens and endless writing. If I hadn't had done the little bit of revision I could manage I would absolutely have failed. I wanted to shout out "Thank GOD" when I saw that I recognised some aspects of the question. By the end I had such a horrible headache, but that's probably my own fault for not wearing my glasses! 

The only two modules I'm really concerned about are Human Physiology - I did terribly in that exam! - and 'Essential Skills' by which I mean, maths... The results are released on 7th February so there's a bit of a torturous wait before I find out how badly I screwed up. 

The upcoming semester is super busy, but I am looking forward to my modules: Biological Chemistry, Cell Biology, Neuroscience and Behaviour and Research Methods in Neuroscience. We seem to have more lab work which is awesome, and of course finally getting to study neuroscience is a real boost. The crucial factor is going to be getting the balance right. 

As I've spoken about recently, I am tapering off my medications. I can't afford them and I think they're having a more negative than positive impact on me now. Hopefully I won't end up having to re-take exams. That would really kick the depression stuff up a gear. 

Everything is a learning curve. I have a lot of support in place with the university to make life as easy as possible, but the fact remains I do have this shitty condition and I need to be careful. As much as I would love to take part in societies and dance, it's energy I just can't sacrifice right now.

 Blogging is hard work. That's something else I have to learn to factor in to my surplus energy stores. It frustrates me to no end that I have all these things I want to do and talk about, but my body is about 20 steps behind. 

I'm doing the best I can, but in the pit of my soul, I know it's not good enough...

Nexplanon : what they don't tell you

Hi girlies :)

If you're reading this, it's probably because you're either considering the nexplanon implant, or you have it and are discovering that you have been lied to. It's no secret that patients are not told everything about medicines, and the nexplanon implant is a pretty lucrative deal for the NHS to have.

On the face of it, the contraceptive implant is like a perfect solution to a problem. No pills, no impact on your fertility, no stress of forgetting them, getting repeat prescriptions.... you just get it inserted and you're baby-proofed for 3 years; when you can either have it removed and change to the pill, or nothing if you're ready to try and conceive. You can also continue with nexplanon for a further 3 years if you so wish.

On 30th April 2013, I had nexplanon fitted for the second time. I had previously been using depo provera for two and a half years with absolutely no problems in terms of immediate side-effects. Of course, the damage to my bones was of concern after this length of time so I had to stop, much to my dismay! I opted for nexplanon as the next course of action. The combination of two and a half years of depo, plus nexplanon now being in my system sent my body into over-drive, and gave me the worst 6 months of my life.

No-one thought to warn me of the potential impact of such a change happening to my body. At that time, I was pretty oblivious to the level of impact these hormonal contraceptives can have on you.

It took my body a good 6-9 months to recover from the depo, once it had stopped. I bled constantly, with perhaps 12-18 hours respite once in a while. Of course, this made for a miserable existence. I was in a great deal of pain, and was prescribed mefenamic acid which helped somewhat. After talking to my boyfriend, we agreed that my body needed time to recover entirely and get back to normal before we tried with a different form of hormonal contraception. My GP was very understanding and agreed that I had a valid argument for wanting the implant out.

Most GPs will ask that you give it a chance to settle into your system, which generally means you have to have 6 months under your belt, maybe 4 if you're having really bad problems. Why? Well, nexplanon implants aren't cheap. In most settings, it is GPs that carry out the insertion and removal procedure, and their time is obviously costly.

So. The second time around I was prepared and had done a lot of reading. I had to go through the same counseling procedure as before, and it was this time I noticed that the nurse practitioner was not telling me everything. Nexplanon themselves list acne, breast tenderness and pain, weight changes, headaches and irregular bleeding as side-effects on their website. Most concerning, is that completely deny any relationship between nexplanon and these side-effects: "There is no evidence that women with an implant in put on weight. It is also not associated with an altered sex drive or mood changes."

Thankfully, very clearly lists side-effects, and does not attempt to deny them. Another very useful resource was! Forums are amazing for getting advice and information, especially for contraceptives and other medicines.

It was while reading these forums, and others like it that I stumbled across along the way, that I realised all these upsetting changes to my body were more than likely attributed to the nexplanon implant. I wasn't alone and it wasn't in my head. Most importantly, there was a solution.

Looking back at my blog posts, I noticed quite early on that weight gain was hitting me like a train. Once my psychiatric medications started to increase, it felt more logical that they would be responsible. Now, I think that the combination of high-dose venlafaxine and quetiapine in combination with nexplanon resulted in the drastic and sustained changes to my body shape and overall weight. 

My typical day-to-day diet would not be responsible for 20 kilos of gain in less than a year. I can't even comprehend the amount of calories I'd need to eat for that to happen... Needless to say, this is incredibly distressing, terrifying and I am ashamed of my body. I have huge stretch marks, none of my clothes fit, my skin has rolls and I am always bloated. My boobs have exploded to a 36DD and are still going. I'm a size 14(ish) and nothing about this is ok. I don't recognise myself most of the time. 

I have chest pains. My back hurts. My digestive system is a mess. I haven't had a period in 6 months, but I get all the classic PMS symptoms on an almost 3 week cycle. I'm always hungry, but I make sure to snack on fresh fruit and vegetables, and low calorie things like Metcalfes Topcorn. My skin is a disaster zone. I get anxiety attacks and horrible bouts of nausea. My boobs hurt so much. I am a giant gross water balloon and the anorexia voice is making itself known again. 

That is the final straw. This sodding thing is coming OUT. My medications can't work if I'm so miserable because of how fat I am. Let's not deny it here. Look back at my old posts. I'm so, so ashamed. 

On Wednesday 8th January I am having the implant removed, and this date really cannot come fast enough. I want to feel like myself again. 

If you've had problems with nexplanon, or have had a very positive experience, please share in the comments! The more information that's out there the better. I hate the thought of all this sneaking up on another person!!

Samantha Nicholls. Powered by Blogger.


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